LAFAYETTE — The people, the finances and the curriculum at Allen East Local Schools attracted the district’s newly hired superintendent to leave his principal post at Liberty Center High School in northwest Ohio and move to the Lima area.
“I did a lot of research about Allen East schools — it is a solid place to be education-wise, financially, they have a brand new building — there is a great foundation here,” said Mel Rentschler, 46, who was introduced Monday afternoon during a news conference. He succeeds Superintendent Michael Richards, who will be retiring Feb. 28. “The report card is fantastic from the state, the new building means you shouldn’t have to worry about that and financially they are very sound, which is really hard to find in Ohio right now.”
Rentschler begins in his new post Feb. 3 and will spend the month of February working with Richards.
He said he has a daunting task of following Richards, who served as superintendent for the past 14 years, but he has set some goals for himself.
“My goal through the first few months is to lay low and learn the lay of the land,” Rentschler said. “I am not going to come in and offer anything right away until I learn what is going on. They are going to give me the opportunity to work a month with the current superintendent being here to have some time to get to know people, know the ins and outs of the place before I make any recommendations.”
He said he also wants to learn the school’s traditions, the students and the people.
For his entire 21-year professional career, Rentschler has worked at Liberty Center Local Schools — first as a teacher and then the past 8.5 years as the high school principal. He earned his superintendent’s certification two years ago.
During his tenure at Liberty Center, he instituted the 21st Century program, a before- and after-school education intervention program. He implemented drug testing and maintained a high academic level with an Ohio Graduation Test passing rate of 97 percent.
Allen East school board President Todd Hager said Rentschler stood out for one reason.
“When we interviewed we had a lot of people who answered the questions well, but the thing I liked about Mel was he asked the best questions. That was the deciding factor for me,” Hager said. “He also had a well-rounded background. When he came in and sat down for the interview he was relaxed and he fit right in here.”
Hager said he also liked the way Rentschler integrated academic programs for college credit into the high school.
Board member Kevin Dues said he was impressed by Rentschler integrating technology into the classroom.
Allen East Board of Education members approved his hiring during Monday’s meeting held after the news conference. He is to be paid $96,000.
Four other finalists for the superintendent’s position included Mason Bryan, of Riverside, Tony Cox, of Elida, Brad Hall, of Piqua, and Rick Abbott, of Kenton.
Rentschler is originally from Marion County. He and his wife, Kelly, have two children, Christopher, 23, and Cheyenne, 18. His wife and daughter, who is a senior, will stay in Liberty Center so she can finish school.
The Allen East Local School district consists of about 1,000 students and one school building, which was newly built in 2007.